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Quick wins to save money #3: How hotels can overcome the top 10 kitchen waste misconceptions

  Posted in Hotel Management  Last updated 1/12/2023

By Clare Riley, Content and Editorial Manager, SiteMinder

You know you’re in control of your hotel’s kitchen and you also understand your food purchase costs and where that money goes. But did you know that food waste counts for a significant 15% of those costs?

That’s according to the third in a series of reports titled ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ from The British Hospitality Association (BHA) and waste experts SWR and Winnow, which aims to help hoteliers save money in and around their kitchen.

The report identified the top 10 common misconceptions when it comes to tackling food waste and helpfully offers solutions to overcome each one.

Here are the top misconceptions that might resonate with you and your hotel staff:

Misconception #1

“Food waste doesn’t cost me that much money”

How to overcome it:
Making small changes to the way tasks are handled in your kitchen can deliver considerable savings. The BHA report suggests recording and tracking your kitchen waste in a logbook, app or smart meter adding the reasons why that food is being wasted. By figuring out the gaps in your processes, you can identify where to save on your food costs.

Misconception #2

“We don’t produce food waste”

How to overcome it:
Every hotel kitchen has an “optimal level of waste” according to the ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ report. It includes everything from spoilage and cooking errors to inventory damage and customer plate waste. Rather than spreading food waste out across many places, centralise your bins so staff can get a true sense of how much is being wasted. Visual impacts often work really well.

Misconception #3

“Plate waste is an issue out of our hands”

How to overcome it:
The BHA suggests that hotel kitchen staff should see food waste as time and resources wasted. You should make the effort to track how much plate waste is occurring day-to-day and use it to establish your optimal portion size. Savings from oversized food portions can then be directed elsewhere.

Misconception #4

“Food waste is inevitable when we need to display full dishes so the buffet stations never look empty”

How to overcome it:
This is a massive challenge here largely because of the importance for buffet stations to look appealing and appetising. Brainstorming ways to reduce waste at high volume service times can be tricky. One suggestion from the report is to place higher value items in smaller dishes in order to refill them less often.

Misconception #5

“Food waste is unavoidable”

How to overcome it:
There are two different camps when it comes to food waste – the avoidable and unavoidable. Trimmings, peelings, and things like coffee grounds are unavoidable as they are usually wasted during food prep. Avoidable waste comes from a lack of efficiency and control. And you should focus on the areas within that control. Keeping a tight hold on your stock control and production processes are key.

Misconception #6

“Tracking food waste takes too much time”

How to overcome it:
Finding cost savings in any department in your hotel will take time. But tracking food waste is the best way to establish how to cut back on waste in exchange for a small amount of effort. Use separate bins for food preparation, spoilage, and plate leftovers and measure them. You could even weigh them. There are companies available that can help you measure and track food waste and industry associations like the BHA can point you in the right direction.

Misconception #7

“Our recycling doesn’t really get recycled”

How to overcome it:
What happens to recycling when it’s sent away to be recycled? Out of sight, out of mind applies here and some of your hotel staff might be cynical when it comes to the outcome of your efforts to tackle waste. The guide offers summaries for the various types of recycling. For example, glass, which is re-melted into new jars and bottles. Every 1,000 tonnes of recycled glass that is used in this way saves 345,000 kWh of energy, 314 tonnes of CO2, 1,200 tonnes of raw material and 1,000 tonnes of landfill. Over 80% of the glass collected for recycling is used in the UK to make new glass bottles and jars.

Misconception #8

“Food waste collections are expensive”

How to overcome it:
This, according to the BHA guide, was often the case but things have changed and the price of food waste collections have fallen significantly with an upswing on the cost of collecting heavier general waste. You should chat to your food waste management company regularly about making cost savings.

Misconception #9

“A bin full of food waste will be smelly”

How to overcome it:
It’s fair that you don’t want unpleasant odours in your hotel’s kitchen from food waste that’s been hanging around too long. Discuss having more frequent collections and use lids to keep your working environment free of smells.

Misconception #10

“I don’t have space for another bin for food waste”

How to overcome it:
Space can be at a premium in your hotel’s kitchen and the guide advises that food waste is denser than general waste and so requires smaller bins. There are plenty of creative options available if you’re stuck for space such as stacked bins that use vertical space.





By Shine Colcol

Shine is the SEO and Content Manager of SiteMinder, the only software platform that unlocks the full revenue potential of hotels. With 5+ years of experience in content strategy, Shine has produced informational content across various industry topics, mostly about operations management and continuous improvement. She aims to share well-researched articles for hoteliers to discover how to optimize their time and increase room revenue.


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